Woodstock’s seen a busy season of changes. According to recent agenda items before the town’s planning board, it’s also about to start juggling another flurry of new development dreams with its own realities in terms of its zoning and underlying economy.
New restaurants have opened in old and new sites. Silvia’s is drawing crowds to where the Joyous Lake once hosted local nightlife. Nancy’s draws crowds down into the west side of town for what some have started to call destination ice cream. A&P Bar, in Bradley Meadows, is building up a buzz equal to R&R, across from the Playhouse. And now even newer spots are rising across from Wok & Roll, at the Lodge out behind the elementary school, and in several smaller spots on Tinker Street. The Colony draws crowds days and nights, with its Sunday gospel brunch gaining popularity. The eco-hotel concept known as Woodstock Way clatters and roars itself into reality between Tinker Street and Hillside Drive, looking a bit scarred and jarring for now as people get used to the idea of new lodgings, beyond Airbnb, in the center of the village.
Call all that phase one of Woodstock’s 2017 building boom. And prepare for phase two in the coming months and years.
What are we looking at?
According to the town planning board, Jim Nelson’s got his permits in order to build apartments in Wittenberg; the question now is when he plans to do so. Similarly, realtor Tom Collins noted that he’s gotten permits in hand for Dr. Robert Schneider of Greene County to put in one of his Urgentcare facilities, now in Catskill and Coxsackie, in the former bank space adjacent to the CVS on Mill Hill Road (where the Grand Union once stood). Repeated calls to Schneiders’ offices have yielded no details as to his Urgentcare plans yet.
As anybody who goes to Bradley Meadows realizes, Sunflower has started renovations to take over the entire building it put solar panels on several years back. Rite Aid left this summer and renovation progress recently moved beyond building permits to major indoor work, wrapped in plastic to hold down dust and other distractions to shoppers looking to reap the benefits of a 25 percent sale on certain items in the popular natural foods store and community center. There’s even notification of a pending application for the “new” Sunflower to start serving alcoholic beverages on site.
Attempts to get the full lowdown on what’s planned at the store and in the entire 1960s shopping plaza, however, have been stalled since the spring. That, Sunflower founder and co-owner Bob Whitcomb and planning board chairman John Lavalle have said, is because the final planning process for the entire shopping center is “very fluid.”
There are water and traffic issues involved with the site. How to handle drive-thru bank facilities alongside a bar/restaurant, larger market with eat-in section, and a healing arts center? Especially given wetlands constraints in the back of the property and a full-fledged stream that was harmed with a neighboring property’s past problems? As well as the need to make everything fully ADA compliant?
The site’s most recent appearance before planners was described as an “amended sketch plan review of wetlands & watercourse permit application for construction of a 2,370 square foot addition to existing building to combine three lots and create employee parking area, community garden improvement to travel lanes and storm water systems within the wetland buffer and floodplain in the HC Zoning District.”
Everyone seems to be talking now about actual costs versus dreams, with numerous mitigations and moderations occurring on a nearly weekly basis.
Then there’s the vacant Gypsy Wolf property out Route 212/Tinker Street towards Bearsville, which Phoenicia Diner owner Michael Cioffi has brought before planners for discussion purposes under his business title, Twisted Gypsy, LLC. When he bought the property that was once home to the Watering Troff bar/swimming pool complex before Bill Durkin created what was for years the town’s main Mexican hangout, Cioffi said even though he hadn’t decided on a concept for his first Woodstock restaurant yet, he did want to stay within the rambling Gypsy Wolf structure’s rambling funkiness.
Twisted Gypsy’s been before planners, and will be seeking an opinion from the Woodstock Commission on Civic Design, as part of a “sketch plan review to demolish entire decayed building. Create a new design and reconstruct a restaurant with same amount of seats, parking, and use in the LI Zoning District.”
Cioffi said he wasn’t ready to discuss his plans, or planning board process, for similar reasons as Whitcomb. Things were simply too fluid for now.
Last in the big picture of what’s coming into view for Woodstock, at least in terms of development dreams, is a plan by a younger couple to turn a three-story wood apartment building entered on Rock City Road and overlooking the Village Green into a boutique hotel.
That one has many Woodstockers who have rented in the building, and planners, wondering about the structure’s heating and electrical systems, its sprinkler system, and hotel requirements that would require enhanced safety and ADA items possibly inclusive of fire escapes and an elevator.
That project is still in its earliest phases of sketch plan review, with planners and developers just beginning to match dreams to zoning and permit realities.
Lavalle was quick to sum what the town was looking to in its new future, regarding Bradley Meadows and changes at the hamlet center, right on the Village Green, as “monster projects.”
Especially given that the planning board has called a September 27 meeting with Woodstock Way’s attorney and developers in regards to phasing requirements in their permits that they feel have been ignored, and could predicate them pulling the project’s permits given indications that current construction is adding silt to the town’s Tannery Brook.
Talk about a busy season, indeed, as well as a new wave of development inching into all areas of Woodstock.
“There’s one thing I feel we on the planning board need to make clear,” added Lavalle, a former town supervisor as well as current planning board chairman. “We are not the Woodstock dream enhancement board.”